Prescription glasses banned on Australian passport photos

By @chelean on
A French national living in Australia holds his passport
A French national living in Australia holds his passport as he stands in a line waiting to cast his vote in the presidential poll located at a polling booth located at a school in Sydney, Australia, May 7, 2017 Reuters/David Gray

The Australian Government will be banning eyeglasses from appearing on passport photos. The new rule will take effect from July 1.

To “strengthen the integrity of the Australian passport” when dealing with facial recognition technology, the government will formally change the rule of taking proper passport photos. It will not allow applicants to wear eyeglasses on their pictures starting July 1.

“Glasses are not allowed in passport photos taken from 1 July 2018. In rare cases, they may be permitted where glasses cannot be removed for medical reasons (eg severe light sensitivity or recent eye surgery). Vision impairment alone is not sufficient for medical exemption,” the guideline reads.

“If glasses must be worn for medical reasons, the frames must not obscure the eyes and there must be no reflection from the lenses. A medical certificate is required.”

The medical certificate should have a registered medical practitioner’s signature and the reason why the applicant can’t take off the glasses on his picture. The medical practitioner’s full name, registration number, as well as their address and phone number must also be included.

Although this appears to be an incoming rule for new passports, the no-eyeglass policy has been unofficially in effect for a long time. According to commenters, they were told that they should take off their prescription glasses when taking their picture for their passport.

The no-smiling, no-frowning neutral expression on photos, as well as other rules, is still in effect. Applicants must have a neutral expression with eyes opened and mouth closed and must face the camera directly. The rest of the rules, like no head tilt, no hair partially or fully obscuring the face, and not plain background are also still followed. They can cover their head for religious reasons or wear facial jewellery if they normally wear these items.

The Australian passport has been announced last month as the sixth most powerful passports in the world. The country scored a visa-free score of 183. Japan’s passport is recognised as the most powerful in the world, beating Germany, which descended to second place.